The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) hereby informs all competent bodies of grave attacks that have been launched against two of its member organizations: the Regional Indigenous Organization of the Valley del Cauca (ORIVAC) and the Association of Indigenous Councils of the Pacific Region Valley (ACIVA RP)
Demand for urgent action directed to: the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of the Attorney General, the Municipal Administrative Office of Buenaventura, the Departmental Government, the Municipal Mayoralty, the Office of the General Prosecutor of the Nation, the Presidential Program for the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia, international agencies and organizations close to the struggle of the indigenous peoples.
At 9:00 am, under the banner of “the Social, Popular and Indigenous Movements for Life, Territory, Autonomy, and Sovereignty,” our member organizations Orivac and Aciva were on the road in La Delfina, at kilometre 72 of the Buenaventura road, exercising their legitimate right to peaceful mobilization on one side of the road.
At 4:07 pm, a group of the indigenous guard lagged behind, prompting another group to go back for them. They were then detained by members of the Esmad and the army, who threatened them with firearms. This group is still being attacked at this hour by the army who detained them using force, taking advantage of the fact that the group was reduced [in size] and [measured] no more than 50 individuals.
At 4:52 pm, we received notice from the location that one person had suffered injuries related to tear-gas shots, that one person had been detained, and that the security forces had used excessive force. This situation represents a clear and grave violation of internationally recognized human rights and humanitarian rights.
At 5:00 pm, the national army fired indiscriminately on the marchers. The guards who had been detained were hit by live ammunition. The situation grows more complicated with each report; 19 persons are reported gravely injured, two of the protesters have been captured, and another two are reported disappeared. We denounce the state of emergency and grave violations faced by our colleagues at this time.
It is evident that officers of the army and the Esmad have taken measures that dramatically violate the human rights of indigenous peoples, and that there have been serious casualties as well as what appears to be collective punishment. Even though our colleagues have retreated and enacted a cessation of hostilities, the attacks have not stopped. At this hour, the security forces are trying to break into the rearguard and continue the attacks.
We call on the following bodies to take the measures indicated with all speed:
- All bodies and institutions of the Colombian state: to guarantee the fundamental human rights of the indigenous peoples grouped in Orivac and Aciva, and all their indigenous colleagues who will unite with the banner of the “Social, Popular and Indigenous Movements for Life, Territory, Autonomy, and Sovereignty.”
- The Ministry of Defense and the security forces: to immediately cease the aggression and the excessive use of force against the indigenous marchers, which are gravely violating their human rights.
- The Office of the Public Defender: to establish a presence in the zone and exercise its constitutionally and statutorily prescribed powers to investigate the situation and take any steps that may apply against the security forces.
- The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Municipal Attorney General: to take the relevant human rights protection and disciplinary measures.
- The General Public Prosecutor of the Nation: to commence any applicable investigations in view of the situation described above.
- The Presidential Program: to formulate strategies and actions for the comprehensive development of the indigenous peoples of Colombia, making all necessary efforts to guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of the indigenous peoples living in the department of Valle del Cauca.
- International agencies (UNICEF, HCHR, UNDP, IACHR, among others) and other civil society organizations (CODHES, CCJAR, INDEPAZ, among others): to demand that the government of Colombia take the necessary action to guarantee and protect the indigenous peoples’ rights, and to inform the national and international community of the grave situation faced by the indigenous peoples of Colombia, in light of the ongoing risk of physical and cultural extinction that we face today.
Alexander Dora, Counsel for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Rights, and Peace
Phone: (57 1) 284 2168